1975-top-ten

The Band / Northern Lights – Southern Cross

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  • A KILLER copy of Northern Lights with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • These sides are bigger, more natural, more warm and more solid than those of any other copy you’ve heard or your money back
  • This is The Band’s undiscovered gem, containing the most powerful tearjerker they ever wrote: “It Makes No Difference”
  • 4 stars: “…the Band’s finest since their self-titled sophomore effort … “Acadian Driftwood” stands out as one of Robertson’s finest compositions, the equal to anything else the Band ever recorded.”

Thankfully both sides here are rich and full-bodied. This pressing is not nearly as dry and flat as the vast majority of pressings we run across. Both sides have a nicely extended top end to go along with the weighty bottom. The guitars and keyboards are Tubey Magical as well, a quality we we focused on, and one that we believe is essential if the album is to sound its best. (more…)

Steely Dan / Katy Lied – Our Favorite Dan Album of Them All

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Reviews and Commentaries for Katy Lied

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  • Our pick for the best Dan album of them all, a Masterpiece of Jazzy Swing Pop that is sure to reward hundreds of plays in the decades to come
  • Take it from The Dan: “The sound created by musicians and singers is reproduced as faithfully as possible, and special care is taken to preserve the band-width and transient response of each performance.”
  • 5 stars: “Each song is given a glossy sheen, one that accentuates not only the stronger pop hooks, but also the precise technical skill of the professional musicians drafted to play the solos.”

The covers for these original Katy Lied pressings on ABC always have at least some edge, seam or ringwear. We will of course do our best to find you a cover with the fewest problems, but none of them will be perfect, or even all that close to it. It is by far the hardest Steely Dan album to find good covers for.

This copy has the all-important rock energy we look for, although rocking is not quite what Steely Dan are up to here. Cameron Crowe calls it “…absolutely impeccable swing-pop”, a four word description that gets to the heart of the music far better than any combination of adjectives and nouns containing the word “rock.” (more…)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

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  • A stunning copy of this Pink Floyd classic, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Demo Disc Quality Floyd Magic — bigger, richer, more dynamic, with better bass, more immediacy, and more of just about everything that makes a Classic Pink Floyd album a listening experience like no other
  • 5 stars on Allmusic, a Top 100 title and one that is RIDICULOUSLY tough to find with sound this good and surfaces this quiet
  • “Showcasing the group’s interplay and David Gilmour’s solos in particular… the long, winding soundscapes are constantly enthralling.”

The sound of this very special import pressing is HUGE, open, and spacious like nothing you have ever heard.  It’s also exceptionally transparent, with substantial amounts of depth and three-dimensionality.

There is a huge room around the drums that we guarantee you have never heard sound as big and real as it does on this very record.

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings).

Here is the size, energy, and presence to bring the music out of the speakers and right into your listening room! (more…)

Roxy Music / Siren – The Atco Pressings Are the Only Game in Town

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More Five Star Albums Available Now

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  • You’ll find insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades on both sides of this early pressing of Roxy’s Art Rock classic from 1975
  • The sound here is richer, with much less transistory grain, and more of the All Important Tubey Magic than most other copies we played
  • Some of Bryan Ferry’s strongest and most consistent songwriting – Love Is The Drug, End of the Line, Sentimental Fool and more
  • 5 stars: “Abandoning the intoxicating blend of art rock and glam-pop that distinguished Stranded and Country Life, Roxy Music concentrates on Bryan Ferry’s suave, charming crooner persona for the elegantly modern Siren.”

Siren is one of our favorite Roxy albums, right up there with the first album and well ahead of the commercially appealing Avalon. After reading a rave review in Rolling Stone of the album back in 1975 I took the plunge, bought a copy at my local Tower Records and instantly fell in love with it.

As is my wont, I then proceeded to work my way through their earlier catalog, which was quite an adventure. It takes scores of plays to understand where the band is coming from on the early albums and what it is they’re trying to do. Now I listen to each of the first five releases on a regular basis. Even after more than thirty years the band’s music never seems to get old. That seems to be true of a lot of the records from the era that we offer on our site. Otherwise, how could we charge so much money for them?

Imports? Not So Fast

The British and German copies of Siren are clearly made from dubbed tapes and sound smeary, small and lifeless.

To be fair, Siren has never impressed us as an exceptionally good sounding recording. Like other middle period Roxy, records such as Country Life and Manifesto (the albums just before and after), it simply does not have Demo Disc analog sound the way For Your Pleasure, Stranded or the eponymous first album do (the latter two being the best sounding in their catalog).

One would be tempted to assume that the import pressings of Siren would be better sounding, the way the imports of the first four Roxy albums are clearly better sounding. There has never been a domestic Hot Stamper pressing of any of those titles and, since we never buy them or play them, there probably never will be.

But in the case of Siren it’s the imports that are made from dubs. It may be a British band, recorded in British studios with a British producer, but the British pressed LPs are clearly made from sub-generation tapes, whereas the domestic copies sound like they’re made from the real masters.

Go Figure. And another thing: when it comes to records, never assume.

The typical domestic pressing is flat, bass-shy and opaque, sounding more like compressed cardboard than analog vinyl. Unsurprisingly, the CD, whether imported or produced domestically, is clean and clear and tonally correct but lacks the warmth and richness of the better vinyl pressings. (more…)

Bonnie Raitt – Home Plate

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  • Home Plate finally returns to the site with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • Sound this good means you’re probably hearing the album better than they did when they played back the master tape in the control room — studio monitors being what they are
  • Since this is one of my three favorite Bonnie Raitt albums — the others being Sweet Forgiveness and Nine Lives — and quite possibly the best sounding album she ever made, it goes without saying that this is THE Must Own Bonnie Raitt Hot Stamper Pressing of All Time
  • “. . . a wonderful hybrid of American music, built on a thoroughly impressive set of songs, all delivered with Raitt’s warm, expertly shaded, and undeniably sexy singing.”

Another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume. This is a classic case of a record that really starts to work when the levels are up. It’s so free from distortion and phony processing it wants to be played loud, and that’s the level this music works at. It’s the level it was no doubt mixed at, and that mix sounds pretty flat at moderate levels. If you want to hear the real rockin’ Bonnie Raitt you gots to turn it up!

Like a lot of the best recordings from the mid-’70s, the production and recording quality are clean and clear, and we mean that in a good way. There is very little processing to the sound of anything here; drums sound like drums, guitars like guitars, and Bonnie sings without the aid of autotuning — because she can sing on-key, and beautifully. Her vocals kill on every song. (Her dad had a pretty good set of pipes too.) (more…)

Rod Stewart – Atlantic Crossing

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  • You’ll find truly exceptional Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this vastly underrated Rod Stewart classic
  • One of the few to hit our site over the years, and for that we apologize – Atlantic Crossing should be enjoyed by everyone in Hot Stamper form
  • This is some of the best Muscle Shoals rock- and soul-inflected pop from producer Tom Dowd we know of
  • It’s the last consistently good record Rod Stewart made – I bought it when it came out and I listen to it to this very day
  • AMG awards 4 1/2 stars and raves, “Three Time Loser and Stone Cold Sober catch fire,” and on this copy we guarantee they do

The copies we liked best were the biggest and richest, the least thin and dry. Many of the brighter copies also had noticeable sibilance problems, which the richer and tubier ones did not. (more…)

10cc – The Original Soundtrack

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  • An outstanding early pressing, boasting solid Double Plus (A++) Demo Disc sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Superb clarity and energy, solid down low, silky up top, and as HUGE as any recording you’ve ever heard
  • A Top 100 Album and a real sonic blockbuster on a copy that sounds as good as this one does
  • The extended suite that opens side one has ambience, sound effects, and a climax of powerful, multi-tracked vocals that will make your jaw drop
  • “Musically there’s more going on than in ten Yes albums, yet it’s generally as accessible as a straight pop band… 10cc is among the few groups actively engaged in stretching rock’s restrictive boundaries in a constructive and meaningful manner, without falling prey to pretense or excess.”

The recording itself is a Tour De Force, one reason I’ve been demonstrating my stereo with it for more than thirty years. The extended suite that opens side one, One Night in Paris, has ambience, sound effects, and incredibly dynamic multi-tracked vocals at its climax that will make your jaw drop.

What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear: (more…)

Bennett and Evans – The Tony Bennett / Bill Evans Album

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  • A wonderful early pressing of this classic collaboration, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to here finish and vinyl that is hard to find any quieter
  • When heard on our best Hot Stamper pressings, the album clearly belongs near the top of the All Time Great Male Vocal Records
  • Waltz for Debby is the best thing here. You want to hear the Bennett-Evans Magic? Go right to that track
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… one of the best albums of either’s career… an excellent jazz-pop hybrid in which both musicians were shown off to advantage.”

If you like sophisticated vocal jazz I don’t think you can do much better than this record, especially when it sounds like this. Tony Bennett’s voice sounds wonderfully rich, BREATHY, and above all REAL.

The soundstage is open and spacious, the piano full-bodied and clear, and the vocals have the clarity and fullness missing from most pressings. It’s incredible to hear these two top-notch musicians interacting and responding to each other in this kind of huge, open and natural space. (more…)

Little Feat – The Last Record Album

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  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or better on both sides – this is the best studio album the band ever recorded – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The drums are rich and fat and deliciously ANALOG, a perfect match for the sound of the album as a whole
  • Consistently strong songwriting with dramatically more emotionally powerful tracks than their other releases
  • Features great songs like All That You Dream, Long Distance Love, Mercenary Territory and more

The Last Record Album is one of our favorite Little Feat albums. The recording, by the estimable George Massenburg, has many outstanding qualities. Among them is amazing bass; the bass goes REALLY deep in places (Long Distance Love) and it’s big, punchy, rich and well up in the mix throughout the album.

What to Listen For

The problem has always been an overly smooth top end, combined with congestion, smear, and a serious lack of presence. The good news is that if you clean enough copies with the advanced cleaning techniques we’ve developed, and you make enough improvements to your stereo, room, etc., with the right copy you can actually get this album to sound clear AND rich. (more…)

Neil Young – Zuma

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Reviews and Commentaries for Zuma

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  • These Double Plus (A++) sides of Neil’s amazingly well recorded 1975 Masterpiece are guaranteed to floor audiophiles and Neil Young fans alike – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Zuma captures a kind of garage band purity that makes practically any other studio album you own sound processed and desiccated in comparison
  • For a hard-rockin’ Neil Young album with Demonstration Quality sound, you’ll have a hard time finding a better choice than a Hot Stamper pressing of Zuma
  • A Must Own Top 100 Title – just drop the needle on Danger Bird or Cortez the Killer to have your mind blown!

Can any one artist lay claim to TWO of the BEST SOUNDING rock albums ever made? Neil Young can!

After the Gold Rush and Zuma are DEMO DISCS and SUPER DISCS of the highest order, right up there with Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat, the other two albums by a single artist that deserve to be placed on that rarified plane.

The fact that Gold Rush and Zuma both involve Neil Young is doubtless not an accident. I would be very surprised to learn that he was not intimately involved with every aspect of the recording of both masterpieces, from the miking to the final mix and every step in between.

Presenting The Zuma Magic

Hot Stampers are all about finding the pressings that present the master tape at its best. Notice I did not say “represent” the master tape, because the master tape may have faults that need to be fixed, and the only way to do that is in the mastering.

The presentation of the music is, of course, a matter of taste. We make judgments about the way we think the record “ought” to sound, based on what we like or don’t like about recordings in general. Audiophiles listen for different things and ascribe to them higher and lower relative values based on their own preferences; we do the same. (more…)